RSIC Chairman Arlan Melendez: “We want (tribe members) to be close to the families here. We stay together and watch out for one another. That's what our tribal council is charged with doing.”

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony has been approved for a $4.4 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grant Competitive Program to build 22 single-family, manufactured homes on reservation land in Hungry Valley, west of Spanish Springs.

Competitive indeed—according to HUD’s press office, 125 tribes submitted applications, and only 22 were awarded funds. The RSIC—which consists of almost 1,300 members of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe tribes—is the only Nevada awardee.

“We’ve already designed the subdivision, and we’re trying to raise the money for infrastructure,” said RSIC Chairman Arlan Melendez. The RSIC is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on building amenities such as electricity, water, curbs and gutters. Melendez estimates that construction is likely to be completed by 2025.

He said the project will meet approximately half of the RSIC’s most pressing housing needs. The current waiting list has around 40 families awaiting homes.

These families largely fall into two main categories, said Melendez—those that live in a more urban part of Reno and would prefer to live in spacious Hungry Valley, and those who live on the reservation in overcrowded, multi-generational households.

“It could be a three-bedroom house with five or seven people living in the house, or eight people,” he said.

For tribal members whose housing needs aren’t met by this round of funding, Melendez said, “We have some plans in the future to look at (constructing) apartment buildings at some point.”

He said that some RSIC members are veterans and/or are experiencing homelessness.

“We’re trying to at least get them into affordable housing here on tribal lands, because it maintains our traditions,” Melendez added. “We want them to be close to the families here. We stay together and watch out for one another. That’s what our tribal council is charged with doing. So I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

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